By Keith Binkley and Jim Bloss / For The Herald
It is with some sadness that we read The Herald article related to the fear that our local behavioral health care system isn’t ready for the onslaught of cases to come (“Mental health providers brace for forecasted spike in demand,” The Herald, July 5).
Our sadness is two-fold: one, we agree that past budget cuts have crippled our behavioral health care infrastructure and that the situation could get even worse with the forecasted reduced government revenues due to the virus; and two, in all of the discussion in the article we did not see mention of our local NAMI Affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the resource and support programs we have in place to help those in need at this time.
We provide support for families and caregivers of those living with behavioral health disorders as well as support for those individuals living with behavioral disorders and those that feel increased mental stress brought on by current events and our progression towards a “new normal.”
We are not behavioral health professionals, just parents and caregivers of those living with the biologically based brain disorders of mental illness and/or chemical dependency. Certainly, those presenting with immediate medical or psychological needs should be calling their primary care providers and if needed, our local Crisis Line to access a team of professional, compassionate, and caring individuals.
That said, NAMI Snohomish County stands ready to provide the services and programs that we do best: Family Support Groups, PEER Support Groups, classes and other forms of support. Most of all, we listen and provide the best support and advice that we can, based in years of experience and practice at surviving the kind of stress, anxiety, depression and other forms of behavioral issues that are so prevalent in everyday life and especially in our current environment.
Finally, we are working closely with other affiliates to structure our usual in-person programs to be held virtually; meaning that in many cases, those in need of our support can check in with us and join virtual support groups. Please check in with us at our office number (“not” a crisis line), leave a message, and we will get back to you quickly! And for some incredibly useful resources please check out our websites at the national, state and local levels – they are “packed” with useful materials: www.nami.org; www.namiwa.org; https://namisnohomishcounty.org.
We’re here for you. Please do not despair and remember that you are not alone!!
Keith Binkley, president of the National Alliance for Mental Illness Snohomish County. Jim Bloss is immediate past president for NAMI Snohomish County.